Bum F*ck Nowhere Always a treat to have an un uneventful TSA and flight! We have a Chevy SUV waiting for us in Durango. Surprisingly enough there is no snow in town! We hope Mulva… eh, Dolores, does better. The highway turns into a two lane road, then a narrower road, then 9 miles on a narrow dirt road! In bum-f*ck-nowhere we accidentally pass Dunton Hot Springs: there was an uninviting piddly gate which we didn't, for the life of us, believe would be the entry to this allegedly fabulous resort. Well, it is! And the resort is every bit as fabulous too!
Drink Plenty We are greeted by the handsome Italian general manager, Edoardo who, incidentally, speaks half a douzen languages, the activities gal Bo Jo whom we promptly rename Bo Jangles (sorry Bo Jo!), O'Mally the beagle who jumps into the car the moment we get out, and our host-extraordinaire, Eric, who advices us to drink plenty of water! Then Dan, in his ever seriousness tell Bo Jangles that we are not people's people! So even though the rest of the guests are having a great family style lunch in the dining room, we are seated by ourselves, in the corner, in a different room. Thanx Dan. Fortunately we are allowed to mingle with the rest of the guests for the rest of our stay.
The Saloon Dunton Hot Springs is not somewhere you accidentally stumble upon - did I mention bum-f*ck-nowhere? - so you can be sure that every guest has made an effort to be there, which means an immediate common interest. Everyone gets together in the Saloon for drinks before dinner, which is served family style. Lots of fun conversations, anywhere from what folks do for a living, to their days' activities, to other travel plans, etc. It is great fun! We meet a bunch of folks we hope to stay in touch with. And during all of this, Eric takes care of all and any of our needs, including making sure we drink plenty! We grow to truly enjoy his company and sense of humor… and anyone who puts up with Dan And Assana clearly does posses a sense of humor!
Thunder Snow We have crazy weather during the very first night we are at Dunton. It starts in mid afternoon with just snowing, then there is snow thunder and lightning - first time experience for Assana - and then it dumps 11" of snow overnight. We wake up to a spectacular but extremely cold morning (-4F degrees). We don't care! We have spa appointments all morning!
Oxygen? No! Our first snowshoeing is the day after the big storm. The trail has completely disappeared under a foot of snow. For the most part we see the dips where it used to be, but at one point we are on this meadow and we have absolutely no clue which direction to go next! Fortunately we run into Bo Jangles, Melanie, and the pups Murphy and O'Mally, who happen to be on their daily walk from the opposite direction! Phew! Crisis averted! We chit-chat a bit and go on our way back to town! Having to blaze the trail in that much fresh powder, and the steepness of the first half, and the fact that we are at 9000', kicks our ass!
Snow Angle The next day the storm was gone and even though there were some clouds around the visibility was great. We go back to the meadow to get a view of Dolores Point, The Middle Point, and No Name; we kid you not! these are the names! This time we are in our boots - we are not too smart we - so it was an even more challenging hike at times. But we do get beautiful views of the peaks… and on a dare, Assana makes a perfect snow angle in 10 feet of powder!
648 A couple of days later we go on a different trail, Geyser Spring Trail. Didn't know Colorado has geysers? Well, turns out they don't! They have just this one, and they named it 648! WTF? Now, talking of steep, this trail is straight uphill and gains 550 feet in just 1.25 miles, which might not seem much at Wunderlich but at 9000', well seems sooooo hard to us.
Naked Aspens The trail meanders thru groves of aspen, which must look spectacular in the fall. They are no less beautiful naked. There is something calming about their white skins against the white snow. Also, It is late in the day and the low sun casts a lot of very interesting shadows on the bumpily snow.
Lukewarm It eventually dead-ends at 648, which is super cute! Beautifully set among snow covered pines, it has turquoise water and, well, it doesn't really spew up, but a good healthy "blooop bloooop bloop." We notice there is no steam, so Dan decides to check the temperature: it is lukewarm, at best! No wonder it has such a boring name.
The Source Hanging out at the hot springs fast becomes our favorite activity. There is the a fireplace, a HOT pool of spring water plus a COLD pool of water for the brave, all over looking the mountains. Then there is the outdoor pool which is also very warm and has great views. Then there is the "source", where the actual spring that feeds all these pools is, and that is a few hundred feet away. You have to climb down a ladder into this pit of hot water. The pit is supposed to have the hottest temperature of all three, but we find the indoor pool hotter and more pleasant, especially with the fire and the smell of cedar burning. We visit The Source just once. And, incidentally, on the way back we run the few hundred feet between it and the pool house barefoot and in our bathing suits… on the snow and in subzero temperature! Turns out your feet numb after a few steps, so all you have to deal with is the pins-n-needles you get once you are back in hot water.
Au Revoir What an amazing spot this place is! The food is incredible, the service is down-to-earth and fantastic, and the setting is just spectacular. We try to imagine how beautiful these aspen-covered-mountains are in the fall, but we might have to see it for ourselves.
We have had an amazing time at Dunton! Eric, Edoardo, Bo Jangles, Dennis, Melanie, Sheri, and the rest of the gang, thank you so much your hospitality. We had a fabulous time!